The Oakmont Sunday Symposium is open to all Oakmont residents and their invited guests. If the speaker requests the program be video recorded, an edited copy will be posted here two or three days later for those who could not attend in person. The Symposium solicits comments and suggestions about our programs from our audience. Click on Contact Us.


OUR LATEST RECORDINGS

Authur Dawson, "Thinking Like an Oak" on April 13, 2014 (audio)
Geof Syphers, "Introducing Sonoma Clean Power" on April 6, 2014 (video)


APRIL 20th – EASTER SUNDAY – NO SYMPOSIUM

APRIL 27th – THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS – ORIGINS AND CONTEMPORARY ISSUES

Weston FieldsThe Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 981 texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 inside caves about a mile inland from the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The texts are of great historical, religious, and linguistic significance. Dr. Weston Fields, the Executive Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, will describe what the Dead Sea Scrolls are, how they were discovered and saved, why they are important to so many people, and why some fragments are only now becoming known. He will also discuss the work of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation and other organizations to preserve the scrolls and disseminate their content for scholarly study and public display and education.

Dr. Fields Dr. received his Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1993 where he studied Dead Sea Scroll texts and wrote his dissertation on the recurring motifs of the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative. Since 1991, he has served as the Executive Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, which has supported the publication of the scrolls by Oxford University Press in forty volumes. He has lectured on the Scrolls in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and helps coordinate the work of scholars around the world engaged in publishing the Scrolls and related research and publication. Dr. Fields is author of four books, co-editor of two, and is presently working on three more. Dr. Fields and his wife, Diane, divide their time between Jerusalem, Israel; Cape Town, South Africa; and Kodiak, Alaska, where, during the summers, he runs a family business, fishing commercially for salmon.

MAY 4th – SARAJEVO: 1ST SHOT OF WORLD WAR I

Weston FieldsA century ago on June 28, 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, were shot dead as they crossed over the Latin Bridge in Saravejo, Bosnia. The assassin was a Serbian teenager, Gavrilo Princip, who was part of a Serbian military conspiracy. Within a month this seemingly local event grew into a four-year war that claimed ten million lives. Instead of settling conflicts among nations, the Great War led to the Russian Revolution, the rise of Adolf Hitler, the Cold War, and international problems with which we are still faced.

Historian Bob Kirk, will explain how an act of terrorism drew European nations inextricably into a deadly trap that their rulers and strategists had set. Bob has taught history for over four decades and is particularly fascinated with the causes of the First World War. This is the tenth presentation Bob has made to Sunday Symposium audiences since he and his wife Barbara moved to Oakmont in 1998. Bob earned his Ph.D in history from U. C. Davis. He is a recent past President of the World Affairs Council of Sonoma County. He is the author of five books, and has lectured on cruises all over the world since 1986. He invites Symposium audiences to attend his class, 'The Great War and its Legacy,' to be given for OLLI at Oakmont in September and October.

SPECIAL EVENING PRESENTATION, MAY 8th – 7–9:00 pm – BLAZING GALAXIES, EXPLODING STARS, AND MONSTROUS BLACK HOLES: HIGH-ENERGY VISIONS OF THE UNIVERSE

Weston FieldsEinstein's most famous equation is E=mc2 – but what does it really mean? When scientists observe the high-energy Universe, light from exploding stars, blazing galaxies and monstrous black holes illuminate Einstein's vision. High-energy satellites such as the recently-launched NuSTAR, the Swift Gamma-ray Burst explorer mission and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope are tools that allow us to explore the Universe in ways that Einstein could only imagine. NuSTAR is NASA's newest eye on the X-ray sky, focusing X-rays at higher energies than the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Since launch in June 2012, NuSTAR has been uncovering black holes hidden deep within gaseous galaxies, including studies of the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way. It has also mapped out elements from supernovae, revealing details of the processes that create the "starstuff" from which we are made. Swift observations of the most energetic explosions in the Universe since the Big Bang have traced the birth places of black holes. Fermi uses gamma rays to probe the Universe on scales from the infinite to the infinitesimal, and future Fermi observations may shed light on the nature of dark matter.

In this talk, Professor Lynn Cominsky, Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department at Sonoma State University (SSU), will showcase many recent exciting results from these NASA missions. In 1981, Professor Cominsky received her Ph.D in physics at MIT. In 1993, she was named SSU's Outstanding Professor, and the California Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. She has served as the scientific director for the PBS NOVA television program "Monster of the Milky Way" and accompanying planetarium show "Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity." She is an author on over 100 research papers in refereed journals, and the Principal Investigator on over $15 million of grants to SSU. Prof. Cominsky is the founder and director of SSU's Education and Public Outreach Group, which supports several different NASA high-energy astrophysics missions.

MAY 11th – MOTHER'S DAY – NO SYMPOSIUM


Contact the Symposium at oaksunsym@gmail.com